The real heroes of ratata are the heroines. The mamas with the magic.
It is one of the web phenomena first noted in the later 90s, with html talk forums: active users included many young smart mothers. Having kids changes your social life. Unless you’re rich or have a large extended family, going out without the children is saved for very special occasions. So after the kids go to bed, there’s just the media to spend time with. Before webtalk the only choices were TV, radio, print media or hobbies. And if you are peripheral to the ‘scene’, and especially if you live, because it’s cheaper and better for the kids, in suburbia, then webtalk can engage you daily in a wider world that you aspire to.
And of course these were smart mothers, because they had PCs at home and were not afraid to use them – maybe they used them also in their job or had become acquainted in further education. The smart mums are still with us, and I think it’s great.
Blogging is one the cheapest hobbies you can have. All it costs is your time (once a kind person provides the platform). And having an audience of strangers – even just a handful – is empowering. Yes, the content of many blogs might appear superficial, but we are at the very beginning of media decentralization. Bloggers today are ‘practising’. I don’t know what it is a rehearsal for, but I’m all for it.
Ratata comes in the plain vanilla content format of personal pages (or mini-zines), accompanied by unthreaded comments. Graphics and videos are easy to post. Because of the format, interactivity between ratata bloggers is relatively low and online discussions of any depth almost never develop, although the gestalt of ratata is the real discussion. For thematic discussion, threadedness makes a huge difference. These are personal diaries,. What has developed is not a localized Facebook or Twitter (though many users are involved in these too), but a kind of lo-kultur board where personal creativity is valued. Ratata is the JCR of the university of life.
The ratata user/audience is urban and wannabe socially fashionable. There’s very little philosophical text depth at all. The only issue is happiness and the search for it (a worthwhile quest in itself, though too few people understand that happiness created through the unhappiness of others is the Ponzi scheme at the center of Capitalism). The ratata tone of voice is often the usual one of young people at the start of their careers. These personal pages are social networking CVs. And among the 1000 active ratata bloggers are some very talented writers, photographers, fashionistas, observers, confessionalists, photo-manipulators, cooks, comedians and all the usual aggregated sharing of what’s happening. Quite a few of those present now at ratata will be the iplayers of the Finnish future.
I’d like to propose 2 extensions to ratata: both of which would require a different kind of coding for threaded discussions. And both would be issue-based rather than ego-based.
The first extension would be a daily open thread which would enable instant sharing of information, ideas and comments – across the membership.
The second format would be an issue-based diary system with threaded commentary.
I really cannot believe that all the members of ratata are unconcerned with the fact that most of us are using resources as if we had more than one planet, or the political threats to our personal freedoms, etc etc.
Mr X has been wandering in the media desert for 40 years. He has spoken to the Burning Bush. He will now lead his people to the Promised Land. "Los Angeles give me Norfolk Virginia, Tidewater four ten o nine Tell the folks back home this is the promised land callin' And the poor boy's on the line." See my first diary for more info... Mr X is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 1.0 Finland License.